The Weight is Over – Week 35: Oh, Baby!

When my kids were babies, I never left the house without a diaper bag that held all the essentials to care for an infant. Mainly, the bag contained spare clothing, but also, especially for older babies and toddlers, it included lots of snacks, because nothing says disaster like a cranky, hungry baby.weight is over cranky baby

Fast forward a few years and here I am again, packing bags before I leave the house for a day of meetings, errands and events. But this time, the bags I'm packing are for me. I'm babying myself - big time - and I'm not apologizing.

I've been on this health-and-fitness program since December, when I learned this bag-packing necessity the hard way. I'd wake up with the best of intentions. I'd eat my healthy breakfast. Then I'd leave the house for an appointment that wasn't expected to last long. But it would, and in fact, it would drag on forever. And there I was, the hours ticking away, and I was away from home and I was hungry because I'd missed my morning snack. Sometimes that time would have crept into the afternoon. By the time I arrived home I was famished. I'd eat like it was The Last Supper.

In case you've missed first-hand experience with this, as it turns out, a cranky, hungry woman isn't much fun, either.

I soon discovered that my mother's saying, "Eat a better breakfast; feel better all day," didn't cut it with this plan. I learned that my weight-loss success required more than just a good breakfast, but good food all day long, every day. That meant breakfast, a morning snack, lunch, an afternoon snack, dinner, and finally, a bedtime snack. Count them. That's three meals and three snacks.

Thirty pounds heavier ago, the first time I met with Matthew Lister of Align Private Training, he told me that if I wanted to lose weight and be fit, I had to make myself and my health a priority. Workouts were mandatory, not optional. Also mandatory was eating those three meals and three snacks every day. Plus, I had to be good to myself. Get plenty of sleep. Drink lots of water. Schedule my workouts like the crucial, life-saving sessions they were.

This was difficult. I was used to burning the candle at both ends. I was used to eating on the fly, and when I did, it was often high-carb, high-sugar comfort food (because, after all, I deserved it for working so hard and sacrificing so much).

After I started the program, I found I was eating more than I ever had before, but strangely, I was losing weight. Of course, the reason I was losing weight was that I was working out, while eating the right food. Good food. No crap. I virtually cut out bread completely, with the exception of an occasional turkey or chicken sandwich made with Dave's Killer Thin-Sliced Organic Whole Grain and Seed bread, just 60 calories per slice. Pasta? I've had just one pasta event in seven months (I was teaching how to make it; it was a dinner party; I only ate a little; I can explain).

The former Doni, when on the run and hungry, would drive through In 'n' Out Burger for a cheeseburger with grilled onions (Julie Child told me it was her favorite, so it was mine, too) and an order of fries, all made OK washed down with a diet Coke. Or I'd zip through Fast Weenies for a hot dog, or Heavenly Donuts for a French cruller. Or I'd grab candy from a vending machine, like a Hershey bar with almonds; nearly like a health food because it contained almonds.

I knew those days were over, but I needed something to replace those dangerous unplanned feeding frenzies.

My solution was to create a new me: Doni the Girl Scout meets mother of a newborn. The result: I'm always prepared, and I "baby" myself by never leaving home without my bag full of snacks. I also bring a huge container of water, because this is the one time when it's OK to drink and drive (water). weight is over lunch bag

My bag is insulated, a necessity in Redding's heat. I also bought some containers that come with their own little ice chillers, to help keep things cold. For good measure, especially if there are perishables in the bag, I'll include a frozen ice pack.

weight is over food containers

The bag's contents varies, but usually it's a variety of options in the protein, carb (fruit) and allowable fat (nuts) families. Typically, I include things like jerky, string cheese, grapes, nuts and a protein drink.

Also, if I need a caffeine hit, I've discovered four-packs of small, 6.5-ounce cans of Starbucks Doubleshot Espresso & Cream Light (7o calories, 5 grams of carb). Both the protein and Starbucks drinks are not an every-day thing, but they're on standby for dire situations, when I'm away from home and my usual food.weight is over snack foods

Mind you, the things I pack are usually snacks, not full meals, unless I'm traveling, in which case I opt for a full-on Coleman ice chest. But in the case of the small insulated lunch bag, I don't eat everything, of course. In fact, nine times out of 10 I end up bringing home most of the food, uneaten at the end of the day. But the insulated bag is my culinary security blanket of sorts. It offers a selection from which to choose depending on what time it is, and how I'm feeling. For good measure, I also keep some jerky and nuts in my car's glove box.

But eating is just one part of this plan. Working out is another. Sometimes, my schedule will get extra crazy and I lack the time to rush home and change into my work-out clothes. No excuses. The solution is I have a bag I keep in the car with extra work-out clothes and shoes, just in case I don't have time to go home to change. (No segue, but here's a crime-prevention tip: Always hide your work-out/gym bag in the trunk, lest thieves see it, think it's a purse and smash your window looking for money, only to find sweaty clothes. You're welcome.)

 Babying myself and being prepared are two major keys to my success. Basically, I'm the person you want in the event of a zombie disaster, and all the stores are closed.

But I'm pretty fit. First, you'd have to catch me.

In the meantime, what are your favorite healthy-snack tips?

Doni Chamberlain
Independent online journalist Doni Chamberlain founded what’s now known as in 2007 with her son, Joe Domke of the Czech Republic. Chamberlain is an award-winning newspaper opinion columnist, feature and food writer recognized by the Associated Press, the California Newspaper Publishers Association and E.W. Scripps. She lives in Redding, California.
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16 Responses

  1. EasternCounty says:

    Jean Nidetch, founder of Weight Watchers, always kept a can of asparagus in her glove box when she first started eating nutritious food.  She laughed at herself in an interview, saying, “I guess I thought I might be caught in a traffic jam and starve to death.”  I’m in Salem, on my way home from a trip to Whidbey Island.  I gotta say, making the drive in two days rather than one long trip is a very civilized way to travel.  I didn’t stop to eat because I had road food on the seat beside me:  brown rice cakes, nuts, dried fruit, high fiber chips, lots of water.  My only stops were at a couple of rest areas to use the restroom and walk out the kinks because I didn’t need to fill the car (35+ MPG) until reaching Salem both directions.

    The Girl Scout motto is Be Prepared.  Noni Doni is being a good scout.

  2. I like to hit the Farmers Markets on my way to work (Tues. and Thursdays) – I’ll ask the vendor for “The perfect peach to eat today and one that will be perfect tomorrow.” I will miss that when peach season is over.

    We plow through a huge pile of raw vegetables and yogurt dip every night before dinner — I slice and chop every other day, and I can also throw some in a plastic bag to grab and go.

    And I know you’re not supposed to bring your own food to the movie theater, so keep this quiet…but I’ve been known to bring a bag full of frozen grapes to snack on in lieu of popcorn. 🙂

    • Oh, Erin, this is the best year for peaches! Even the ones from Safeway are delicious.

      And your movie snack idea is brilliant. I confess that I’d been buying the tiny kids popcorn snack pack (about 2 cups of popcorn, a small drink and a fruit snack), thinking it was not a “bad” choice. And then I checked the carbs on movie popcorn, and found that it’s about 15 carbs for that much popcorn, when I’m shooting for around 5.

      So goodbye movie popcorn; hello frozen grapes.

  3. A. Jacoby says:

    I’m ADDICTED to rice cakes with a teaspoon of chunky peanut butter and a teaspoon of sugar free marmalade. The marmalade is hard to find so sometimes I resort to low sugar marmalade. After one of those with a cup of coffee I feel like Ive been so indulged. . . . and yes, they travel well. I found the little individual peanut butter packs and I have a plastic jar for the marmalade. That, along with turkey jerky and the dried snap peas got me all the way to Portland on the train. I forgot the string cheese . . . . DANG . . . . left it in the fridge. it’s hard to remember it all at 2:00 a.m. LOL!!

    It took me several weeks of three meals and three snacks to not feel guilty for “eating so much.” Now the “go-bag” has become routine.

    • Eastern’s road food. Now your go bag. Where were you when I was writing this and needed a name other than diaper bag? 🙂

      Rice cakes. We talked about them yesterday at Align, and there are two camps: those who like them, and those who don’t. I fall into the latter group. I just don’t like the quasi-styrofoam texture, but I guess the topping would help, right?

      I got some of those sample peanut butter containers, but switched to buying my own little containers (hello Dollar Tree) and filling them myself.

      During this discussion one of the Align peeps suggested a Wasa cracker as a crunchy base for almost anything: peanut butter, but also more complex toppings, like turkey, tomato and arugula. She said Winco has one of the best prices for it, and it comes in various flavors (plain, rye, wheat, etc.). I’m going to try it.

      Good for you for taking your go bag on the train to Portland.

  4. Barbara Stone says:

    Good for you, doni, for babying yourself!

    I have a small fridge at work, in which I stock apples and peanut butter for my afternoon snack, extra salad fixings to add to the house salad I buy at Courtyard Cafe every day, lean lunch meat, balsamic vinegar, and sciracha. Every weekend, I take some time to bag craisins and nuts for my morning snack, premeasured so I don’t  have to think about it. I also cook up some gluten free steel-cut oats and hardboiled eggs for my breakfasts, in case I’m in a hurry in the morning.

    And I always have cut-up carrots, celery, snap peas, red pepper, mushrooms along with some hummus in case I need something to munch on.

    And yes, I’m losing weight even though I tell people I’m on the “peanut butter” diet…LOL I love it!

    • Barbara, you’ve got this DOWN! Man! And no wonder you’re losing weight. Look how healthy you’re eating! (Good idea to do the steel cut oats in advance, too.)

      Keep it up, my Align sister!

  5. Cindy says:

    Great job Doni, you look great. I make protein balls and protein snacks and freeze them. My husband loves a lemon protein bar. Grapefruit cups, low calorie yogurts, and almonds (guess I can only eat 10 at once). Learning is a constant process!

  6. Karen C says:

    Doni, I wonder if the Sargento Balanced Breaks is something Matthew would approve of.  They come in a clamshell, three pack.  Little bits of cheese, a dried fruit, and a type of nut. I am looking at one now that has Natural White cheddar, Sea salted roasted almonds, and dried cranberries. 7 g protein, 20 percent calcium, 180 calories for the one serving.  Sugars ar 9 gr, carbs 13 g.

    I usually eat half of the container for a little pick me up in the after noon when I get hungry.  Not an everyday thing, for me.  I do eat the other half of the container within a day or two. They are quite tasty, and easy to grab.  The one serving weighs 1.5 oz.


    You look great, very healthy, bright and happy!

    • I’ve never seen those, but they sound pretty safe. Matthew likes to keep those snacks less than 5 grams of carb, so if you ate half of one of those snacks it would be nearly perfect (I’m guessing – Matthew, other Aligners, what say you?).

      I feel healthy, bright and happy! Thank you!

  7. Ginny says:

    You are looking so good; and it has given you a new outlook from the depressed gal of a few years ago.  That is wonderful, Doni.  I’m all for your mental and physical transformation to the happy person that you are today!

  8. Viv says:

    I, too, love the Swedish hard rye bread or Wasa crispbread, but I usually have Mozarella string cheese with it.  Almonds, fruit and Lara bars. I’m hoping Matt thinks the Lara bars are ok. Super job, Doni!!!!!

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